1 John,  Dale Lewis

1 John 3:13-17 | Loving one another – Part II

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The third chapter of John’s first letter is a contrast between two different groups of people the Child of God and the Child of the devil. In verse 10 John wrote, “Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother”. The two primary differences between these two children is seen in both Vertical Love and Horizonal Love:

  1. Vertical Love: The practice of righteousness, in the life of the Child of God and the absence of  the practice of righteousness in the child of the devil.
  2. Horizonal Love:  The practice of loving his brother, in the life of the Child of God and the absence of this in the child of the devil.

John had just wrote that these differences had transpired solely because of the finished work of Jesus and that His work had destroyed the “root of sin” as well as provided His blood that will enable the born-again believer to not practice sin habitually. It is apparent that even after 70 years John saw that the work of Christ in those who received Him as Lord ought to be THE EXAMPLE of the best of human relationships and families as Jesus had said in John 13:35, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” The verses that we are examining now offer for the reader just what this looks like in verse 12-24 as we see four examples as “types of human relationships” These examples show three things that ought NOT be a part of our fellowship with each other and ONE that should:

  1. Vs. 12 Murder
  2. Vs. 13-15 Hatred
  3. Vs. 16-17 Indifference
  4. Vs. 18-24 Compassion       

Last week we focused on the first of these found in verse 12 with the example of Cain who murdered his righteous brother Jesus. Cain is an illustration of what is “self-centered love”. We discovered that the example that John uses is NOT of an atheist as Cain was a worshiper of the Living God. According to Gen 4:1-16 both he and Able shared the same family, they were brothers born of Adam and Eve. They had the same access to the instruction in righteousness, both were trained and understood the concept of stewardship that all the blessings and gifts they had received had been given to them by a gracious loving God. They attended the same religious gatherings and brought offerings that represented the understanding of their dependence upon the grace of God to enjoy life’s blessings. Furthermore, I personally believe that Cain had offered the right offering to God as Able did in times past. The point that John is bringing out is that “When Self-love comes face to face with truth and reality it has a decision: Repent and change or destroy the person exposing it!” Now we will take up the other three examples as “types of human relationships”.

  1. Vs. 13-15 Hatred
  2. Vs. 16-17 Indifference
  3. Vs. 18-24 Compassion       

Vs. 13-15 Hatred

Vs. 13-15 The case of Cain is an extreme one that led to murder but now we see where murder came from if not dealt with. Like any infection if our immune system doesn’t deal with the infection of “hatred” early enough then it can cause death! While dealing with Donna’s cancer I learned about designer DNA that they were experimenting with that in some cancers was able to detect and attack the defective cancer cells and actually alter them or destroy them before the cancer spread. John speaks of attacking “the cancer of murder by attacking hatred and then indifference with the God given treatment of compassion”. There is a difference between taking a life and the hatred actions, but the inward intent is the same. John says that this “intent” is part of the fallen world system that comes from the “murder” satan himself. These three verses offer the difference between these two children.

A. Vs. 13 First, John wants his readers to not be surprised by the world’s hatred of us as the transformative work of Christ is being made visible in our behavior and as such it brings conviction upon the ungodly. And like I mentioned before when that happens the unrighteous has only two choices: Repent and change or destroy the person exposing it! While the Christian should not be surprised by their attitude of us the world should be surprised by our attitude and action towards them. The business of the Christian is NOT to be hated by the world; it is to commend to Jesus to the world in order so that they will be won to Him

B. Vs. 14 Second, as true as that reaction is in the world such hatred ought not be a part of the body of Christ and its actions towards each other. Insecurity and sin lead to bitterness and jealousy and those two leads to active hatred. When the Christian doesn’t behave like the world in its insecurity it reveals to the individual believer that they have indeed passed from death to life. So, note this professing Christian when we act like we did before we knew Jesus in gossip and backbiting we are showing that we are at that moment “abiding in death”! It is far too common toady to see the Church seeking the love and acceptance from the world while they hate their brother and sister in Christ and in so doing they reveal whose family to belong too. In Luke 6:31 Jesus gave His disciples the STANDARD in the form of a statement that each of us could easily ask ourselves before we say or act towards the family of God: Just as you want others to do to you, you also do to them likewise! Is what I’m engaged in; backbiting, gossip etc. how I want to be treated by those I call my friends and family? Oh, how better off the church in Jesus’ name would be if we simply practiced this “Golden Rule”.

C. Vs. 15 Finally, we need to understand that just like in all of nature the human heart hates a vacuum: The absence of the transformative love of Christ in a life has to be filled and in this case it will be filled with hatred! If we do not “stay at home” with Jesus we will go out with the world and that will be seen in how we walk and talk! No person can maintain both residences: A person who is staying at home in the world cannot keep their home with Christ also! The presence of jealousy and hatred in a life is an indication that the person is not staying at home with Jesus and is living in the shack of the world. The person who has abandoned brotherly love has abandoned themselves to the world. Love and hate are like light and darkness, and life and death; you are either one or the other but never both at the same time!     

Vs. 16-17 Indifference

Vs. 16-17 In the “trilogy of the flesh” we see that: “Murder” starts in the flesh with “hatred” and “hatred” begins with “indifference”! John uses Jesus as the contrast to indifference and as such we can see the difference between how a child of God handles the situation verses the child of God. The comparison is to be found in the phrase: By this we know love: Because He (Jesus) laid down His life for us. To understand this, we need to comprehend the depth of this so that we can understand the exhortation. The depth of this is that Jesus, the Holy Son of God who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). The laying down His life for us was not based upon a debt He owed, an obligation that was required instead as Heb 10:5-7 informs us of the conversation before the foundation of the world was laid as we read, “Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—In the volume of the book it is written of Me—To do Your will, O God.’” Clearly John’s example of what defines “HATE” is to put a condition upon our love based what we are receiving from the object we are called to love. Jesus loving sacrifice was not given to those who had deserved His love in return but to those that didn’t deserve such a sacrifice and never will! Such love is not to be in word but also in deed as John continues to illustrate in verse 17 as he mentions the practical nature of helps with regards to those in the body of Christ in need. We are to love not just in tongue but also in truth as this is who we manifest God’s love for us as we love those whom He has loved with the love in which He has loved us. John answers the question that many in the body of Christ wants answered and that is, “How do we demonstrate our love to the individual believer in Christ?” And John answers, “Dear Children, let us not love with words and tongue alone but with actions and truth.” To not treat our brothers and sisters in Christ demonstrates that we are NOT abiding in the Love of God ourselves.